Skip to main content

Elizabeth Bowering, lives lived.

Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Artist. Born March 9, 1954, in St. John's; died Nov. 28, 2016, in Edmonton, with physician assistance; at the age of 62.

My most vivid memories of Elizabeth Bowering are from the early 1970s. She was my big sister and it was so cool that she was into the rock music our father hated. While Liz was diminutive in size, she was not in character; I am sure she would play Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones just to get a reaction from Dad.

Growing up in St. John's, she attended Bishop Spencer College. It was here that she developed the wanderlust that fuelled her life. She loved travel and kept a wall map stuck with pins identifying all the places she had visited.

Story continues below advertisement

St. John's was where Liz began to see the arts as an essential form of communication.

In her youth, she played guitar and sang the folk songs of her era, but also the traditional music which helped shape her family and her character.

She met Keith Bowering, her husband of 40 years, when they were both still in high school. In 1977, they moved to Edmonton, where he established a medical practice and Elizabeth dedicated herself to their children, Jennifer and Grant. In Edmonton, she discovered she was as much at ease with a paintbrush as she was with a guitar. Eventually, she found her deepest passion in the theatre, initially as an actor, and then as a playwright in the Edmonton Fringe scene. She wrote and produced Talking to Trees: A Portrait of Emily Carr, which combined her love of both theatre and visual art. She also ran an Art in the Lobby program at Edmonton's Walterdale Theatre. In 2013, she was presented with the Theatre's Jack Wilson Award for outstanding lifetime contribution.

This was also the year when she began noticing subtle changes in her handwriting and gait. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).

MSA quickly robbed her of the voice and subtle movements she needed as an artist. But she persevered, invigorated by the birth of her grandchildren, Malcolm and Coralie.

As a final mission, she put on Wind in Her Sails, a play she'd written years ago based on the true story of our grandmother being shipwrecked. Each performance played to packed houses with profits going directly to fund MSA research. The event let her return to and be proud of her Newfoundland roots, and make a final contribution that would help others, but not herself.

As Elizabeth lost the capacity to enjoy those things she loved, the chores of daily life also became impossible. Constant, enduring pain was never far away. We all knew that she wanted to pass away at her chosen time. Thankfully, she was given that opportunity. Her death came at home, surrounded by her immediate family. On that grey Edmonton day, the fog lifted so that her last moments could be spent gazing over the skyline of a city she loved.

Story continues below advertisement

Just an hour before she died, she called to say goodbye. Beyond the sorrow, I could hear relief in her voice. While her life was too short, she had lived it to its fullest.

Andrew F. Noseworthy is Elizabeth's brother.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨